The bottom of the food chain: Meet the newest radio roomers
By Molly Hayes
It’s at the bottom of the newsroom food chain, but the Toronto Star radio room is a coveted gig amongst young journalists. It’s a foot in the door for students and a way to hone crime reporting and breaking news skills.
This time around, 12 “boxers” staff the room; a mesh of post-secondary students studying journalism, professional writing and documentary media. Between us, we keep the newsroom staffed 24/7 listening to the scanners, scrolling through Twitter and tracking down sources.
We write about crime, traffic accidents, protests, cute animals, vicious animals, gas leaks, potholes — and of course the weather.
Some of us are learning the ropes as we go, and some have been here for months. By now, we’ve all at least figured out what a 10-16 is, and how to keep coffee hot on the graveyard shift.
MOLLY HAYES My stint in the radio room follows a summer spent at the Hamilton Spectator where I covered literacy, murder, and lingerie football. I love local news. With mere months until graduation and adulthood, I hope to use this "foot in the door" to pry that door open, lock it behind me and stay forever (please).
GUSTAVO VIEIRA grew up in Rio de Janeiro where he studied and practiced law. He’s now going through a career change, finishing his master's in journalism at Ryerson. Before the radio room he interned for CBC and Al Jazeera English.
VICTORIA PTASHNICK is a former makeup artist and a Carleton journalism grad. She’s now studying documentary media at Ryerson because she was “tired of telling news stories in the same conventional way.”
She runs marathons and is obsessed with true crime novels. The radio room has taught her how to survive on Red Bull.
TIM ALAMENCIAK is in his second year of his MJ at Ryerson. He’s reported for the Globe and Mail, OpenFile and the Eyeopener. He has a bachelor’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Waterloo, and aspires to cover international affairs. In his months at the Star so far, Tim has had two front-page stories and has covered everything from murders to language exchange meet ups.
KIRSTEN PARUCHA is a recent journalism grad from U of T-Centennial College. As a student, she was editor and sports editor of Toronto Scarborough Campus’s news magazine, The Underground. She has also written for the East Toronto Observer. After the radio room, she hopes to continue in the print journalism field and eventually land an editorial position at a magazine.
A few weeks into the job and after her first ever all-nighter, she is still coffee-free.
ZOE MCKNIGHT is a veteran of the radio room. She’s worked at the National Post and the Telegraph Journal. Back an extra semester to finish her MJ at Ryerson, she’s been in school for 22 years.
In her months at the Star so far, she’s covered shootings and sinkholes, car crashes and cute dogs. “If and when I ever graduate, I hope the Star will have be back and let me out of the box,” she said. If so, she says she’ll need a new camera.
SARAH RATCHFORD — another veteran — studied at the University of New Brunswick where she was the editor of the university’s campus paper (the oldest in the country). She was also the Atlantic bureau chief of Canadian University Press (CUP). She freelanced for NB publications before heading to Toronto where she’s working on her MJ at Ryerson.
“Getting a front page byline this summer was my proudest journalism moment yet, second only to getting hired at the Star in the first place,” she said.
MICHAEL GREGORY studied history and political science at the University of Waterloo. He is now in the post-grad journalism program at Humber. A former varsity swimmer, athletics are a big part of his life outside of the box.
His favourite part of the radio room is being in the newsroom environment: “Teamwork is such a crucial part of the job because you’re constantly passing, and being passed news tips from other colleagues.”
VIDYA KAURI is in her third-year of J-School at Ryerson. She freelances for the United Church Observer magazine and spent four months this summer as an intern reporter for the Hamilton Spectator. At the Star so far, Vidya’s reported on crime, traffic accidents and other breaking news stories. She has a basic understanding of Hindi, Arabic and Kannada.
JESSICA VITULLO is a soon-to-be graduate of the professional writing program at York. She has been involved with two of York’s campus papers, The Pipe and Excalibur, as editor, copy editor and writer. She reported for several Toronto newspapers at Multicom Media last summer.
ALEXANDRA POSADZKI is another radio room veteran. She’s in her first year of Ryerson’s MJ program after earning an undergraduate degree in psychology. She spent the better part of a year covering Ontario news for The Canadian Press, and was the editor of York University’s Excalibur newspaper.
She had her 15 minutes of fame when her photo – leaning off the edge of the CN Tower during a media preview of EdgeWalk – went global.
DYLAN C. ROBERTSON is a first-time radio roomer, though he was first published in the Star at age 12 in the “for-tweens-by-tweens Brand New Planet” section. He’s been a journalist ever since, studying at U of T-Centennial, working at The Varsity and interning at the Gazette in Montreal. He hopes to become an investigative reporter or foreign correspondent.
— Molly Hayes is a radio roomer. You can follow her on Twitter here.